Is Cycling Or Elliptical Training Better For Fat Loss?

Elliptical Trainer

The Elliptical Trainer offers a whole body cardio workout

So you’re getting ready to do some cardio training to jumpstart your fat loss program but already know that running is out either because of injury or because you simply can’t stand to run.

This leaves the choice between cycling or using the elliptical trainer.  Which one is best for fat burning, you wonder?

Which will help you see the end results that you’re looking for?

Let’s go over a few of the main points of consideration when choosing between cycling and using the elliptical trainer.

The Nature Of The Movement

The first thing to think about is the nature of the movement pattern. 

All in all, you will find that you can burn more total calories in most cases with the elliptical trainer simply because it’s not only working your legs, but your upper body as well.

With cycling, you’ll only be hitting the lower body on its own, while with the elliptical, both areas come into play.

For this reason alone, the calorie burning potential between the two is greater with the elliptical trainer.

And since your calorie burn potential is directly related to your fat loss potential, this might make you assume it’s the superior choice.

The Ability To Increase Resistance

But you also need to consider your ability to increase the resistance level.

You can, with both pieces of cardio equipment, increase the total tension that you have to work against as you move about the exercise.

The difference here is what muscle groups you are working. With cycling, as you increase the tension, you’ll be putting more emphasis on the quads along with the hamstrings to a slight degree.

Exercise Bike

The exercise bike works mainly the quads, hamstrings and glutes

Apart from that, you won’t really be working any other muscle groups.

With the elliptical trainer however, you’ll be hitting the glutes, upper body, back, and hip flexor region to a larger degree.

This isn’t to say you won’t work the hamstrings and quads, they just don’t come into play as you would with the bicycle.

This doesn’t impact calorie burning potential so much as it does where you see specific strength gains.

If you are hoping to strengthen the quads and hamstrings, cycling is clearly going to be your better bet.

Think about this as you choose your piece of cardio equipment.

Which Exercise You Feel Most Comfortable With

Finally, the last thing that you need to think about as you go about choosing which type of cardio equipment you want to use is which one you feel most comfortable on.

Is there one type where you feel you have a smoother range of motion? One type where you can push yourself harder?

If so, that is likely the machine you want to be using.  Remember that whatever type of cardio you enjoy most and can work hardest on will be the one you burn the most calories on – and do most often.

And those two factors alone can really dictate which machine is best for overall fat burning.

If you just feel funny when using the elliptical trainer for instance, choose the cycle no matter what. You’ll get a better workout on it.  And, vice versa.

So as you can see, it’s not a black and white answer in terms of which cardio machine is superior for fat loss.

Much of it comes down to your own personal preference along with the goals that you have for your program plan.

In an ideal world, you would choose to do both as this will keep your body guessing and seeing progress moving forward.